Fourth quarter confirms a year of organic growth throughout 2016 and another increase in order intake.
The fourth quarter of 2016 was a period of very strong growth for SQLI's strategic segments - e-commerce (50%), mobility (50%), web solutions (40%) and experience design (20%) - and the selective management of technical assistance services with an emphasis on margins rather than volumes.Some fringe activities were downsized or terminated, bringing overall growth to 6.6% (7.5% excluding media purchases and 6% at constant scope) and a substantial improvement in margins.
The Group's headcount was increased to 2,096 over the final three months in order to absorb an increase in orders.Overseas, activity was boosted by strong growth in Switzerland (21%), the Benelux countries (13.5%) and InventCommerce in the United Kingdom (>100%).
New growth drivers
New partnerships have reinforced SQLI Group's ambitions on the Digital market, as the agreements signed with Adobe, Platform.sh and Lyra saw the start to new cutting-edge projects, particularly cross-platform solutions. These partnerships also contributed to the increase in new orders in the fourth quarter.Up by more than 21% over the year, SQLI's Energy offering is proving to be a buoyant growth driver, with close to 300 SQLI experts and developers working on major projects in a sector where digital and operator services are becoming one and the same. It has also enabled the Group to diversify into Blockchains.
In other sectors heavily impacted by digital transformation, the Group has brought onboard new benchmark players such as 3M, Brandalley, Shell and Suzuki in leading fields like omni-channel retailing. At the same time, SQLI's existing client base continues to afford new opportunities in groundbreaking projects such as BNP Paribas' innovative social network, "The Leader Connection".All of these latest developments were made possible by the Group's ability to constantly broaden its expertise, particularly in systems that incorporate connected objects.
Positive start to the Move Up 2020 Plan
SQLI Group’s new strategic roadmap is firmly underway.The increase in major client accounts means its growth drivers are ready to move up a gear, and the measures to improve on profitability have all been defined and assigned to managers.
Two highly experienced managers have also joined the firm: Eric Doladille, who joined in September 2016 to head up the Innovative Service Centers (On-shore and Off-shore) which manage the deployment and maintenance of major projects, and Dominique Marichal who will be in charge of all Delivery Excellence initiatives from February 2017.
The last quarter of 2016 and first trends in 2017 point to a positive start to Move Up 2020 as the Group actively widens its geographical reach with new acquisitions as part of its strategy to rank amongst Europe's leaders in digital applications.
SQLI will publish its 2016 results on 27 March 2017 after the close of trading.